Author Topic: Side gig: Officiating weddings?  (Read 3559 times)

TomTX

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Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« on: December 29, 2015, 08:24:13 AM »
So, after getting ordained in college I have performed ~10 weddings for friends and family over the past couple of decades. I've never set a fee (give me what you want if you want) and I have two basic requirements:

1) Have real premarital counseling. It can be with me, or it can be with a degreed counselor. Cover the basic conflict points to make sure you're on the same page (money, kids, dealing with in-laws, who works, etc)

2) Provide a script. These have been VASTLY different weddings, from the Cherokee/Celtic blend I co-officiated to the Baptist(ish) one on the beach on Maui.

I've toyed with the idea of doing this as a side gig. Now that MrsTX has a side gig and we're going to be Schedule C anyway - the thought has become more appealing.

I suppose my competitive advantage is being flexible and nontraditional. Are you a gay trangender interracial couple who wants to get married down in a cave? No problem.

However, I have no idea what I should charge. Fancy wedding folks - what's the going rate? Should I offer different "packages?"

I'm also thinking I should drop the first requirement if I'm just doing this for a side gig. For my "free" services, the only marriages that didn't "stick" were the two where I relented (or was outmaneuvered and unwilling to walk away) on the counseling

MrsDinero

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2015, 09:01:34 AM »
Mr.D and I are getting married next summer and have been looking at officiates.

Most of them have different package levels, these are the ranges I have run across.

Elope = $100

Semi-Tailored = $300-$500

Ultra Tailored = $500+  (several pre meetings, personalized vows, post wedding meeting, etc)

Some charge 32 cents in mileage, some say the first 30 miles are free after that is a mileage charge.  Some charge extra for large wedding parties because there is more ceremony, etc.  We found ours on www.theknot.com.  She had a link to her website with some samples of ceremonies she had done, her process in working with couples, etc.  She also gave us references. 

justajane

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2015, 09:01:53 AM »
I've heard of people being quite successful at this. I imagine if you have a talent for public speaking, this could be a great side gig. I believe we gave our pastor $250 plus a book as a gift. IMO this was on the low side, but when he opened the envelope, he was very demonstrative. My guess is that usually congregants are pretty stingy and that this was on the higher end of what he has been given. That's a shame, because he really put effort into the short homily he did and customized it to us. Plus we had about three session of premarital counseling. This was in 2005. If I were marry today, I think $500 would be a better number. Yes, he is getting paid so to speak for being a pastor already, but this is above and beyond his normal duties.

I wonder where you would advertise? I would definitely have set rates.

Kris

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2015, 09:24:16 AM »
I have a friend who did this for many years as his full-time gig (he only stopped because he was getting burned out, but now still does the occasional baptism and marriage counseling on the side). I'm not comfortable putting out his website here, but if you are interested, PM me and I can send you the link. 

He does not have a church, but was ordained online, by the way.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2015, 09:26:24 AM »
If you are doing this as a gig check what the rules are on providing 'counselling' if you're not qualified - here you'd run into trouble. Probably fine if you say 'discussion'.

I've never seen a requirement from a non-faith officiant to have PMC  - I see that it could put people off (and you're providing a service), but I would have loved this. My OH was thinking that me asking for PMC was a sign of disaster rather than an opportunity to check alignment and potential conflict points. I would not have been impressed if you required that the PMC was with you though.

I think you could add value and command more money by developing the script with the couple, rather than have them provide it - it depends on the individuals. I knew exactly what I wanted but OH would have just gone along with the dull standard script.

startingsmall

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2015, 09:27:41 AM »
My husband is a pastor and he typically gets around $100 for a wedding... which includes writing the service, a premarital counseling session, rehearsal and the wedding itself. Definitely not a profitable venture for him, but your experience may be different.

I wish we were at justajane's church!

justajane

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2015, 10:37:58 AM »
My husband is a pastor and he typically gets around $100 for a wedding... which includes writing the service, a premarital counseling session, rehearsal and the wedding itself. Definitely not a profitable venture for him, but your experience may be different.

I wish we were at justajane's church!

Haha. It was obvious from his reaction that he doesn't normally get that amount. From my perspective, $100 is just too low for all that your husband does. It's a shame that people don't realize how much work goes in to officiating a wedding. At least does he and possibly you get a few free, nicer meals out of it? Our pastor and his wife attended our rehearsal at a restaurant and the reception. Though I imagine if he does too many weddings, that these meals could get old, especially if you have younger children.

Come to think of it, I was going to pay him less, but we hired his daughter to be our wedding organizer on the day. The agreed upon rate with her was $200, and I immediately thought - How can we possibly give her dad, who more of an integral part of the day, less than his daughter? That's how we came to $250, but I wish we had had our priorities straight and given him even more. I believe even the accompanist received $200 as well, and she only played for about 20 minutes total.

In general, clergy are unappreciated.

TomTX

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2015, 01:10:48 PM »
If you are doing this as a gig check what the rules are on providing 'counselling' if you're not qualified - here you'd run into trouble. Probably fine if you say 'discussion'.

Good point. Since ti has been "friends and family" without charge, saying "premarital counseling" got the point across efficiently. I can see where it might have legal concerns.

Quote
I've never seen a requirement from a non-faith officiant to have PMC  - I see that it could put people off (and you're providing a service), but I would have loved this. My OH was thinking that me asking for PMC was a sign of disaster rather than an opportunity to check alignment and potential conflict points. I would not have been impressed if you required that the PMC was with you though.

I think offering it as a "value add" makes more sense.

"Commonsense discussion of marriage pitfalls" or whatever. I'd have to work on the verbage.

Quote
I think you could add value and command more money by developing the script with the couple, rather than have them provide it - it depends on the individuals. I knew exactly what I wanted but OH would have just gone along with the dull standard script.

I probably should have elaborated on that. I did work with each of the couples on fine tuning/developing the script, but I made them come up with a rough draft of what they wanted. By telling them "provide the script" made sure that I at least go SOMETHING in my hands.  I'd certainly be willing to put in more effort if I'm being paid to do so!

Kris

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2015, 01:14:52 PM »
If you are doing this as a gig check what the rules are on providing 'counselling' if you're not qualified - here you'd run into trouble. Probably fine if you say 'discussion'.

Good point. Since ti has been "friends and family" without charge, saying "premarital counseling" got the point across efficiently. I can see where it might have legal concerns.

Quote
I've never seen a requirement from a non-faith officiant to have PMC  - I see that it could put people off (and you're providing a service), but I would have loved this. My OH was thinking that me asking for PMC was a sign of disaster rather than an opportunity to check alignment and potential conflict points. I would not have been impressed if you required that the PMC was with you though.

I think offering it as a "value add" makes more sense.

"Commonsense discussion of marriage pitfalls" or whatever. I'd have to work on the verbage.

Quote
I think you could add value and command more money by developing the script with the couple, rather than have them provide it - it depends on the individuals. I knew exactly what I wanted but OH would have just gone along with the dull standard script.

I probably should have elaborated on that. I did work with each of the couples on fine tuning/developing the script, but I made them come up with a rough draft of what they wanted. By telling them "provide the script" made sure that I at least go SOMETHING in my hands.  I'd certainly be willing to put in more effort if I'm being paid to do so!

Actually, in order to do premarital counseling, it depends on the program... Not that I'm advocating this, but in order to do the Prepare/Enrich program, all you need to do is complete their course. You can even do it online...

https://www.prepare-enrich.com/webapp/pe/become_facilitator/template/DisplaySecureContent.vm;pc=1451419593762?id=pe*become_facilitator*overview.html&xlat=Y&emb_org_id=0&emb_sch_id=0&emb_lng_code=ENGLISH

TomTX

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2015, 01:22:17 PM »

Actually, in order to do premarital counseling, it depends on the program... Not that I'm advocating this, but in order to do the Prepare/Enrich program, all you need to do is complete their course. You can even do it online...

https://www.prepare-enrich.com/webapp/pe/become_facilitator/template/DisplaySecureContent.vm;pc=1451419593762?id=pe*become_facilitator*overview.html&xlat=Y&emb_org_id=0&emb_sch_id=0&emb_lng_code=ENGLISH

Interesting. Certainly something to consider if the side gig takes off :)

MgoSam

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2015, 01:29:52 PM »
I believe we gave our pastor $250 plus a book as a gift. IMO this was on the low side, but when he opened the envelope, he was very demonstrative.


I know nothing about weddings or the like, but I do believe that it's good that the person that conducted your wedding is pleased with the compensation they receive. I'm guessing pastors in general will be ok with compensation if there is no set fee, but in general, their happiness can often find a way to add to your happiness.

startingsmall

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Re: Side gig: Officiating weddings?
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2015, 02:23:11 PM »
My husband is a pastor and he typically gets around $100 for a wedding... which includes writing the service, a premarital counseling session, rehearsal and the wedding itself. Definitely not a profitable venture for him, but your experience may be different.

I wish we were at justajane's church!

Haha. It was obvious from his reaction that he doesn't normally get that amount. From my perspective, $100 is just too low for all that your husband does. It's a shame that people don't realize how much work goes in to officiating a wedding. At least does he and possibly you get a few free, nicer meals out of it? Our pastor and his wife attended our rehearsal at a restaurant and the reception. Though I imagine if he does too many weddings, that these meals could get old, especially if you have younger children.

Come to think of it, I was going to pay him less, but we hired his daughter to be our wedding organizer on the day. The agreed upon rate with her was $200, and I immediately thought - How can we possibly give her dad, who more of an integral part of the day, less than his daughter? That's how we came to $250, but I wish we had had our priorities straight and given him even more. I believe even the accompanist received $200 as well, and she only played for about 20 minutes total.

In general, clergy are unappreciated.

We are typically invited to the rehearsal dinner & the reception. Since we have a 3-year-old and I work late hours on Friday nights, I normally skip the rehearsal in order to work or be at home with the kiddo. Receptions in our area are typically a casual meal in the church fellowship hall, but I do enjoy attending them because I'm a wedding line dance junkie. Give me The Electric Slide, The Cupid Shuffle, or any of those other cheesy options and I'm in heaven! Wedding season is my favorite time to be a pastor's wife :)

And yes, clergy are completely unappreciated. I had no idea how true that was until my husband took on his first full-time solo pastor role one year ago!!! He'd intended to go into more of chaplain/counseling role, but really felt called to lead a church by the time he finished with seminary. While his required butt-in-the-chair designated office hours are not very long, he easily puts in 40+ hours per week, is on call 24/7, and we deal with the constant knowledge that any of our vacations could be cut short by a death or serious illness of a congregation member.... all for about $35k/yr. He loves it and finds it worthwhile (so far), despite the low pay, but it's hard for me not to sometimes feel resentful for how the church takes advantage of him. (For example, it's obvious that he should be 'on call' for true emergencies.... if someone suddenly was taken to the hospital, someone unexpectedly died in an accident, etc. But he also gets late-night calls if one congregation member is fighting with another and wants to vent, a congregation member is mad about the music, a toilet is clogged in the fellowship hall, etc. It's crazy.)